Weeks after Prabir (not the real name) got married last year, the kindergarten in Moulvibazar, where he worked as an assistant teacher, closed just like any other educational institutions, in compliance with a government order to stop the spread of the contagion.
Without income, he sought help from local police and police bought the newly-wed couple a month of groceries. They soon ran out of food but the pandemic lingered.
Like Prabir, more than 5,000 teachers and employees of 414 private kindergartens and primary schools in the district have become unemployed and are now bearing daily expenses by borrowing money from friends and relatives.
A few of them got some help at the beginning of the pandemic, but their sufferings only intensified with time.
The people impacted by the closure of the institutions now urge the government to provide stimulus to unemployed teachers and employees to overcome their economic crisis.
Even before the pandemic, teachers of these private schools were very low paid, but they took care of their familial expenses with whatever little salary they received per month, several teachers said.
When the schools closed in March 2020, parents stopped paying tuition fees, so the school funds to pay salaries to employees dried up.
"I am appealing to the government to stand by the kindergartens and the teachers for the sake of the future of students," said Zahirul Islam, teacher of Shahjalal Ideal International School and College in Moulvibazar and district advisor of Bangladesh Kindergarten Association.
Meanwhile, it has become almost impossible for many schools to continue to bear house rents, electricity bills and other expenses. They worry if they will be able to survive the pandemic.
The school authorities demand that the government provide cash incentives and bring the institutions under public funding.
They say kindergartens play an important role in the education sector. Without support, many of them will be closed permanently due to debts and teachers will be forced to change profession.
Talking about these days of misery, Kawsar Ahmad Munna, assistant headmaster of Vatera Girls School in Kulaura, said the school established in 2011 used to pay salaries to its teachers from fees paid by 150 students from nursery to class eight.
"We have been paying the house rent and other bills with a subsidy of Tk25,000 per month over the last 14 months. But we cannot pay the teachers."